Invest in affordable healthcare to curb Nigeria’s huge FX on medical tourism, minister charges private investors

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Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, on Monday in Lagos appealed to the private sector and wealthy individuals to invest in the health sector to bring quality and affordable health care services to millions of Nigerians.

Speaking yesterday during the inauguration of a cancer centre built by the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), in partnership with the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), she said with the latest equipment at the centre, the huge foreign exchange (forex) spent yearly on medical tourism will be a thing of the past.

She said the NSIA-LUTH Cancer Centre located within the premises of LUTH was inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari, last February and started operations in May.

The centre is operated by Healthshare, a South African company with a combined experience of 150 years of general management in the healthcare industry.

Mrs Ahmed said the centre, which is on public-private partnership (PPP) model, will enable people to get cancer treatment. She appealed to wealthy individuals to channel their corporate social responsibility (CSR) investment to the health sector.

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“The cancer centre is built to enable patients obtain precise treatment they received abroad and would also minimise the need for medical tourism. It is a beneficial investment which is safe and sustainable. It provides not only adequate returns for the investment but also give them an opportunity to provide social support for people who cannot afford to pay for the treatment.

“The PPP is executed as a Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) and it is designed for the investors to recover their resources from an investment over a period of time and subsequently the centre will be reverts to LUTH after 10 years of operations. I, therefore, urge individuals as well as corporate sectors to consider channeling some of their corporate social responsibilities (CSR) to project like this especially to help people that cannot afford to pay for the services,” she said.

She said the project promised high return on investment (RoI), adding that when NSIA recovers its investment on the project, it would be handed over to LASUTH.

According to the finance minister, about 80 patients were being treated at the centre daily at affordable rate relative to what it would have cost them had they embraced the offshore treatment of the disease.

She also said there would be treatment cost differential as patients from neighbouring countries are expected to also use the facility and pay.

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